Tooth decay is one of the biggest health issues among children, accounting for over 51 million hours of school time lost every year. What’s more, poor dental health in youth can lead to chronic dental and other health problems. Discomfort, difficulty chewing and the need for painful and expensive procedures can all be prevented. We just need to take good care of our children’s dental health now, and instill some happy dental memories for our children.
So the question is: How do we do this?
And the answer is:
· Don’t wait until your child says her tooth hurts.
· Don’t wait until you see a big hole or black spot on your child’s tooth.
· Don’t wait until your child’s gums are bleeding.
Photo credit Creative Commons: Patrick
When most of us remember the dentist of our youth, usually memories of fear and pain come with it. It doesn’t have to be that way for your children. By bringing them in for regular routine visits, before the dental problems occur, they will develop positive memories of their childhood dentist.
Statistic are staggering. More than one-half of all children aged 5 to 9 years have at least one cavity or filling. Also on the rise among elementary age children is tooth decay in seven or more teeth. It’s almost an epidemic.
A painful tooth or chronic dental problem can lead to difficulty in eating, speaking and concentrating. Children with dental pain may not always voice their problem. They may appear anxious, depressed or tired, and teachers may not recognize their pain. Dental problems also cause many children to miss school.
An annual back-to-school dental checkup is an easy way to help prevent these problems. It’s so important, that several states — including New York, California, Oregon— actually require children to get a dental exam before entering public school.
Regular dental exams do more than catch tooth decay. They also let us see if teeth are growing in properly, monitor the results of tooth brushing and flossing techniques and allow us to apply protective sealants (there is no bisphenol A or BPA in our sealants) that can prevent decay before it happens.
In addition, parents of young athletes should discuss mouth guards with their dentist before returning to school sports. Mouth guards prevent painful and expensive oral injuries. If your kids play sports or engage in other activities that can impact their teeth, it is important to have them fitted for a mouth guard- a simple easy visit.
In addition to maintaining regular brushing and flossing habits, other tips to prevent tooth decay include:
- Buy new toothbrushes: While they’re getting new notebooks, pens and other supplies, why not let them pick out a new toothbrush? While you’re at it, pick up two — one for home and one to bring to school.
- Make a dental care kit for school: To encourage them to brush after lunch and snacks, buy a zippered plastic-lined bag and include a toothbrush, toothpaste and floss.
- Pack dental-friendly lunches and snacks: Fruit, nuts, string cheese and bottled water are all good choices. Avoid sticky foods like raisins or fruit leather, as they can cause cavities.
- Talk to your dentist about sealants, a protective coating applied to decay-vulnerable teeth.
- Limit intake of food and beverages high in added sugars.
- Look for desserts sweetened with xylitol- a known anti-cariogenic sweetener.
- Reduce between-meal snacks.
- Floss and brush after every meal
- Start a reward system: Encourage good dental exams like you encourage good grades — with a prize like a night at the movies, a new video game or other coveted item.
We need to set good examples for our children by showing them the proper way to attain and keep their good health. Each of us should be coming twice a year for a check up and cleaning. Call your dentist’s office now to make that appointment. We look forward to helping you have a healthy smile that last a lifetime.
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